It’s common when you are a teenager to feel unhappy with yourself.
We all have moments, especially during stressful times, when we find ourselves thinking things like:
- I’m not good enough;
- I’m stupid;
- I’m ugly;
- no one will ever like me;
- I’m worthless.
However, if this is your self-talk pretty much all the time, it’s safe to say that you have a low self-esteem.
Causes of Low Self-Esteem
Our family, our peers, our experiences of school and our community, right from our earliest childhood, can help to build – or demolish – our self-esteem.
Low self-esteem may also develop as a result of abuse and neglect, unrealistic high standards put on us by our parents, and bullying or trouble fitting in with our peers.
It can also be part of another problem, such as depression or illness, or even as a result of negative or abusive personal relationships.
When you have a low self-esteem, it means that you place a low value on yourself, judge yourself harshly, and have an overall negative opinion of yourself.
Effects of Low Self-Esteem
How we view ourselves affects every area of our lives: from how we interact with other people; how we engage in our work or study; and how we look after ourselves.
If you think you might have low self-esteem, do the following sound familiar?
- Self-criticism – Do you frequently put yourself down? Are you very self-critical? Do you blame yourself when things go wrong?
- Focusing only on the bad – Do you find yourself ignoring the positives, and instead focusing on the negative aspects of situation?
- Experiencing negative emotions – Do you frequently feel depressed, hopeless, ashamed, angry, or nervous?
- Avoidance – Do you avoid social or leisure activities or gatherings, because deep down you feel you don’t deserve them, or aren’t good enough?
- Work/study difficulties – Are you unmotivated about getting goals for yourself, or achieving in your studies or work? Perhaps you are the opposite – you feel so inadequate you overwork yourself.
- Relationship problems – Have you been told you are overly sensitive to signs of criticism? Do you avoid and withdraw from social gatherings and interactions – or alternatively, you are a people-pleaser and peer-group pleaser to such an extent that you ignore your own rights and wants?
- Health and wellbeing – Because people with low self-esteem do not value themselves, they may not take care of their physical health and wellbeing. Are you eating a healthy diet and exercising regularly or is it all too much? Do you turn to alcohol and drugs to cope? Are you sloppy about your dress and personal hygiene? Or perhaps you fall at the other end of the scale – desperately trying to hide your perceived inadequacies, with perfectionism?
A psychologist can help you to address unhelpful thinking patterns and behaviours, to help you build a more positive self-esteem.
By identifying and challenging your negative self-beliefs, and replace them with more positive, realistic ones, you can begin to build a better life.
Acknowledging your positive qualities can also help, and it is important to recognise and acknowledge your strengths and abilities – because yes, you do have them!
If you recognise yourself or your teenager in this article, I welcome you to make an appointment with me!
Author: Tegan Gonczar, BA (Hons), Grad Dip Ed (Secondary).
Tegan Gonczar is a Brisbane psychologist with experience in providing psychological counselling to children, adolescents and adults; she has a passion for working with people of all ages, to help them overcome obstacles, learn effective ways of coping and lead happier and more fulfilling lives.
Bookings and Fees: To make an appointment with Brisbane Psychologist Tegan Gonczar, try Online Booking – Loganholme or call M1 Psychology (Loganholme) on (07) 3067 9129.
- Dryden, W. (2003). Managing Low Self-Esteem. Whurr Publishers, London.
- Lim, L., Saulsman, L., & Nathan, P. (2005). Improving Self-Esteem. Perth, Western Australia: Centre for Clinical Interventions.
- Powell, T. (2009). The Mental Health Handbook : A Cognitive Behavioural Approach (3rd ed.). Speechmark Publishing Ltd., U.K.